Sharing an iTunes library between separate user accounts

Q: My wife and I have separate user accounts on our computer. I would like to set up iTunes on her login so she can update her iPod when she’s on the computer (a chore I currently do for her when I’m logged in). It needs to be the same configuration with the same music library. How do I do this?

– Don

A: By default, iTunes sets up a separate library for each user account on your computer, stored within the “My Music” folder for each individual user account. It is possible to share the same iTunes library between two separate accounts, although to do so you will need to ensure the iTunes library is in a common location where both accounts can access it.

One way of approaching this is to simply ensure that your wife’s account has the necessary rights to read and write files within your own “My Music” folder. However, this is generally a bit more complicated than simply moving your entire iTunes library and media content to a more central common folder (ie, C:\iTunes).

To move your iTunes library to another location on your computer, you start by changing the path to the “iTunes Music” folder and then using the Consolidate Library function to copy all of your music into that new location. You can then manually copy the iTunes library database files to the new location and point iTunes to this new location by holding down the SHIFT key while starting up iTunes. You will need to login in to both accounts and point iTunes to the new location in each one.

Sharing an iTunes library between separate user accounts

Note that your media content should be in a separate folder from your actual iTunes database files, similar to the way in which it is organized in your “My Music” folder.

You can find a more detailed tutorial on how to relocate your iTunes library in our iPod 201 article, Transferring your iTunes Library.

Note that even when sharing a common library, iTunes will store your preferences separately for each Windows user account, so you will want to go through your preference screens in each account and ensure that they match. Most critically, ensure that the settings in the “Advanced” tab are the same, since this controls how iTunes will organize your music files within the “iTunes Music” folder.


Sharing an iTunes library between separate user accounts


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